Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Is Mirasol Display Technology?

There's a new display technology for e-book readers that could one day be adapted to displays of cell phones and even large gadgets like television sets.

The invention's advantages over liquid crystal display (LCD) screens and others currently used include extremely low power consumption, readability under direct sunlight, and bright colors. It's called the Mirasol or interferometric modulation (IMOD) display. It's a micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) device from Qualcomm MEMS Technologies.

The Mirasol display technology is actually a state-of-the-art biomimetics system for displaying images and video. Being biomimetic, this technology is derived from nature, specifically the scales on butterfly wings which reflect light to produce iridescence. Each IMOD element of the display is made of two plates that manage reflected light by changing the gap between them, producing different colors. Each IMOD element serves as a microscopic pixel that changes color. COmbined with millions of pixels, an image is created.

Unlike LCD screens, which produce light from electricity, a Mirasol display produces images largely from the ambient light that it reflects back. The result is a display with a lightning-fast refresh rate, readability in both low-light and extreme light conditions, and thinner-than-LCD display casings.

The low energy requirements of Mirasol displays allow battery life expectancy measured in weeks, not hours or days. This long battery life increases options for features and allows for long video playback not possible with regular LCD screens. The developers say the technology is also scalable, which means it can be applied to larger devices in the future as the technology develops.

For now, Mirasol display technology is being used for e-readers. It is envisioned to be a substitute for paper and is expected to open new doors in the publishing industry, paving the way for compact, thin, and light e-readers with access to information that people can take practically anywhere.

Monday, August 10, 2009

How the Future Can Be Powered by Energy from Urine

We all regard urine as waste material. In fact, once we get it out of our system, we stay clear of it. But the fact is that there's treasure in urine. Scientists from Ohio University are devising ways of extracting hydrogen from it and using this gas as a source of energy for house heaters to car engines. The basic technique of extracting hydrogen from urine uses electrolysis. This process breaks down urine's main component, urea, producing useful hydrogen. Gerardine Botte, the lead researcher, says that urea gets adsorbed on to the nickel electrode surface of an electrolytic setup. This then relays the electrons needed to break down the molecule.

Botte says one cow (or the urine from one) is enough to heat the water of 19 houses. So ten cows, including bulls, can heat up to a hundred houses. That's already the size of a village! Animals are urine factories, dumping tons and tons of it into the environment. In cities, especially in depressed areas, the smell of human urine can be prevalent. If the urine from all the urinals in a city can be collected, that's probably enough to provide a big percentage of energy to the overall requirement of the whole city. In the future, the hydrogen that will be used for fuel in automobiles may be coming from urine.

How cow dung can save the environment.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Next Step from Semiconductors: Light-Controlled Nano Switches

The nanotechnology world may be set up for a boost with the new discovery that light, such as infrared, creates a pushing or pulling force when split into two beams that each travel on a different length of silicon nanowire, called a wave guide (as illustrated in the above photo). Because the beams are not in phase, they create a repulsive force that is adjustable. The more out of phase the rays are, the greater the force.

The new technology might give you images of Iron Man with his repulsor beams and Luke Skywalker with his light saber, but the phenomenon behind it does not work in free space, according to Mo Li, a postdoctoral associate in electrical aengineering at Yale University. Li says it only works when light is confined in the nanoscale waveguides that are placed very close to each other on the chip.

The engineers see this new light-force technology could pave the way for nanodevices that are controlled by light instead of electrical switches, the latest of which are made possible with semiconductors. It is believed that light switches will make future gadgets and devices like computers lighter and cooler, both literally and figuratively.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Secret to the Nokia No-Need-to-Charge Cell Phone

Cell phones are very useful as long as they have enough battery to last. While chargers solve this problem to a certain degree, it's still bothersome, especially when you have to carry one around just in case your battery turns low on you. Cell phone maker Nokia dug deep into history and took something that electricity scientist Nikola Tesla had been experimenting on. It concerns ambient electromagnetic waves and harvesting them from the environment to be turned into electricity.

Nokia has managed to make a prototype cell phone that can generate up to 5 milliwatts of electricity from electromagnetic energy in the air. This is very small, but the developers hope to increase this amount to 50 milliwatts, which should be practical enough o keep your cell phone battery constantly charged. It's a wireless way of electricity generation who's time has come for small electronic gadgets like the cell phone.

There are plenty of electromagnetic frequencies to tap and the sources can range from energy coming from space, from the earth, to those given off by other appliances and electrical conduits. As long as the cell phone is in an environment rife with electromagnetic waves, it will stay "live." Of course, you may have to change the battery when it expires, but the new technology takes away the hassle of charging your cell phone regularly.

Monday, May 25, 2009

DVDs that Store Up to 10 Terabytes or 3000 Movies Coming Soon

The storage capacity of optical discs seem to grow by the decade. In the next one, we'd probably see optical discs - DVDs in particular, that are able to store up to 10 terabytes of information. If you can't imagine how much that is, try to imagine your DVD holding up to 3000 full-feature movies - now there's your 10 terabytes!

Right now, it may only be possible to make a DVD version that stores up to 1 terabyte or 300 movies. We have researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia to thank for this new and monstrous storage capacity for optical discs, which is now currently in the Blu-ray technology level.

The new storage system for optical discs will be using nanotechnology where gold particles will play a part in harnessing what they call the polarization dimension of an optical disc. Researcher Min Gu has this to say: "We were able to show how nanostructured material can be incorporated onto a disc in order to increase data capacity, without increasing the physical size of the disc."

Current optical discs have three spatial dimensions but nanoparticles will allow a spectral and a polarization dimension that can be used to store data as well, boosting capacity tremendously. However, these new discs may need a new gadget to play in. When they are released, people will certainly have another fancy thing to toy with.

Save gas! Convert your car to burn water.

How to Increase Your IQ Easily

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Aluminum Foil Sheet Lights to Illuminate the Future

First there was the light bulb. Then came the long fluorescent tube lights. Now it seems that lights will soon come as sheets that you can stick to surfaces. New light technology using aluminum foil sheets now make this possible. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign produced the sheet lighting by simply immersing aluminum foil from the grocery store in an acid bath which gave it a mesh of holes, and in the process, also turning the aluminum into sapphire (an aluminum oxide) that allows electricity to flow through the sheet without breaking down the structure.

The aluminum-sapphire sheet is then sealed between two sheets of thin glass with the spaces made by the holes filled with a gas. When electricity is made to flow through the contraption, plasma is created in the gas-filled microscopic holes, producing light. The lead researcher, Gary Eden, says that the light it makes is brighter and uses less energy than incandescent bulbs. The product is also extremely cheap and even disposable. The sheet light is less than a millimeter thick with the glass forming the bulk.

Different types of sheet lighting concurrently being developed (like the light-emitting diode or LED sheet light shown at left) will soon revolutionize the way the world is lit. Just imagine surfaces coated with them such that even your backpack, wall, or even car can be covered and personalized.

Save gas! Convert your car to burn water.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

How a New Device Can Predict Preference for Drinks

There is an invention that works like a mind reader out there. It's really a device that specifically predicts the kind of drink you will choose as demonstrated in laboratory experiments by Sheena Luu, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto. So far, it is 80 percent accurate, which is enough to say that it is like a mind-reading device or gadget.

In the experiment, the subjects were first made to rate drinks on a scale of one to five. Then, they were made to wear a headband. They were then presented with two drinks to choose from on a computer monitor one after the other. Then they were then asked to mentally choose one. Later, the device was used again, but this time, it's to predict which drink will be chosen. It's able to do so with 80 percent accuracy.

The secret behind the cool device? Well, the headband was used to measure near infrared wave activity of the brains of the subjects as they made their decisions in the second phase of the experiment. According to Luu, when the brain is active, the oxygen in the blood increases, and, depending on the concentration, absorbs more or less light. She adds that in some people, the brains are more active when they don't like something, and in others, they're more active when they do like something.

Use the force! This toy is a real brain-wave device that allows you to raise the ball in the cylinder by the sheer force of your will! Try it by buying it! Lots of endless incredible scientific fun!

Find more great science toys in the Play Science blog!

Save gas! Convert your car to burn water.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Perfect Invisibility Cloak Almost a Reality but Still Out of Sight

The movies are fascinated by invisibility, and now it seems scientists are also. There's news that researchers at Duke University are on the verge of making a cloak that is able to bend electromagnetic radiation like light and others of different wavelengths. They say new materials invented are making this possible. But what exactly are these new materials and how exactly do they bend light enough to create the illusion that there's "nothing there?"

The researchers, led by David R. Smith, say that they have developed mathematical commands that would now allow the manufacture of metamaterials that can be placed in a certain algorithmic pattern that will allow deflection of electromagnetic waves. Smith says the invention can now cloak an almost limitless number of waves.

The invisibility cloak is comprised of 10,000 individual pieces of fiberglass arranged in rows. Of course, the details of the formulas used are kept secret but we may soon see the final invention working as expected in the near future - or maybe not. You can see how effective it works in one of the videos that follow.

Save gas! Convert your car to burn water.

How to Increase Your IQ Easily